Encouragement? Prophecy? or Both?

In my retreat time this morning, I was reading John 14 – 16. It’s an amazing 3 chapters about the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ relationship to Father and Spirit, and the connection of all 3 to us. Being 3 of my favorite chapters of Scripture, I read them often, but was deeply impacted by them this morning in a way not the norm for me.

I tend to read this passage and find encouragement for my life in the Holy Spirit’s role/connection for me. I enjoy phrases like “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” and “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” They remind me of the intimate connection we have to Father because of Son by indwelling of Spirit. And rightfully so. Jesus Himself says that He is telling us these things “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Have you ever read these chapters as prophecy, though? Look at the progression of events in these chapters. Jesus will be gone for a short time and then return. He will send the Holy Spirit when He leaves for good. The disciples will have questions now, but then all things will be clear. Greater things will be done by them. They will be scattered for a time. They will be hated by the world, yet overcome it. Their grief will turn to joy. They will be put out of the Synagogue. In a passage where most find comfort, Jesus in a very detailed way outlines the rest of their lives for them!

And, just as He said, they are with Him, dessert Him, have their grief turned to joy, walk with Him a bit longer, receive the Holy Spirit, and never doubt again. They turn the world upside down, and in spite of being martyred, they have peace in this world. They heal the lame and blind, raise the dead, speak in languages they’ve never learned, and are noted as ordinary guys who are changing the world because they had been with Jesus. These three chapters of John so closely parallel the Book of Acts that I am amazed more people don’t teach on this! We turn to these chapters for comfort. But do we turn to them for prophecy and to see if our lives are “lining out” like people who truly have received His Spirit?

As Jesus wraps up this prophetic/encouraging discussion with His friends, He says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” What did the Disciples end up asking for? That their lives be used up for Him, His kingdom, and His glory. And that’s what He did with them, and they received a joy that was complete. A joy so complete that Paul and Silas could sing as they are beat nearly to death (Acts 16).